Zingers – The Strategy, Not The Dessert. (plus a meme thrown in to boot)

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There is a lot of anticipation for tonights debate between Romney and Obama. One of the expectations I see discussed on the intertubes is that this is going to be a debate full of, and decided on, Zingers!

Not the dessert of course…. Though that would make me more interested in watching, if they offered free Zingers to anyone who can prove they watched live. No, unfortunately I’m talking about the verbal ones, such as this one that popped up in the Scott Walker / Elizabeth Warren debate last night:

“Excuse me, I’m not a student in your classroom…”

Yeah, it was a pretty good zinger. Used perfectly in a moment where the Professor indeed did interrupt him…

Only one problem. This debate is being held at a college. Though the students might have one or two instructors that were rude to us in class (we’ve all had a few of those…. Mr Munson I’m looking your way) by far most professors are considerate in class. It’s been a while since I was a college student, but I liked most of my professors.

And there-in lies the problem. That zing certainly looked good on paper, and I’m sure played just fine in Senator Browns debate rehearsals, where he was surrounded by like minded partisans. But the one thing they didn’t consider is the audience they were in front of. That was a venue full of college students, and it was obvious the zing didn’t go over well with that crowd.

It seems the conventional wisdom is that Romney will score points if he can come up with some good zingers in the debate against Obama. Bad idea. Not only is their a probable unfriendly audience to consider (seems Republicans don’t get much love from these things) but there is the basic question of whether or not the zinger really works to begin with. Yes, there are some memorable ones, with Reagan’s “There you go again” quib, and Lloyd Bentsen’s mocking “You’re no Jack Kennedy”. Bentsen’s ticket lost, and does anyone really think Reagan won BECAUSE of that line? Reagan won because he presented the face and demeanor of the fresher candidate; the guy with better ideas.

The bigger problem is that the nature of politics and the coverage thereof are so different now. When Reagan and Carter debated,oh so long ago, the zing seemed fresh because there was so little exposure to political debates in general. In the last year alone, the Republicans had, what, fifteen debates? We’re used to them. I doubt Romney will be able to find an original zing that hasn’t already been used by him or one of his cohort in the last year. And, with a modern media that can and will change the subject of conversation on a dime, does anyone think a great zing is going to stay in the public consciousness for long? If the Romney team, or the Obama side for that matter, decide that a great zinger will deliver the oval office, then they deserve to lose.

Oh, and by the way, Republicans, please PLEASE, enough of the Obama = Carter memes. It’s not great politics. Probably half of the current electorate was not even alive when Carter was President. They don’t have, and never will have, the feel for what it was like during his tenure. And of the other half of the electorate, a good portion would rather have another Jimmy Carter for President rather than a Mitt Romney. Don’t get stuck trying to reincarnate each of your candidates as the next Ronald Reagan. The Democrats had the same problem with JFK, where they fruitlessly tried to find the next JFK. Like Reagan, he was also a one of a kind. Stop trying to make Romney into a guy that he’s not. Let Romney be Romney. Stick to the present.

And remember, a Zinger will do in a pinch, but it’s no substitute for a good chocolate Hostess thing.

PS. Here is the whole Brown / Warren debate.

5 Comments to “Zingers – The Strategy, Not The Dessert. (plus a meme thrown in to boot)”

  1. By Jeff Alberts, October 3, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

    Might want to edit the title. Deserts aren’t fun to eat.

  2. By Sonicfrog, October 3, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

    Oh, how did I miss that one?

  3. By Jeff Alberts, October 4, 2012 @ 1:39 am

    You just wanted me to feel needed, I know. 😉

  4. By Cinesnatch, October 4, 2012 @ 7:02 am

    I believe former governor Romney appropriated Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s “You’re not entitled to your own facts” for an attempt at a zinger. He prefaced it with “You’re entitled to your own airplane,” which lacked any indication of bite. My thoughts are: if you can’t be original, at least pay respect to the source by improving upon it or equaling it in quality. But, remakes suck in general.

    Zinger fail.

  5. By Sonicfrog, October 4, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

    Well, at least it’s obscure.

    I was hosting an open mic last might so I didn’t watch. I doubt i would have even if that wasn’t on my plate. I’m not sure debates have any purpose other than to score points against your opponent. You don’t get dinged for not being truthful…. Because they both don’t do that much.

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